Alien Renaissance | Monthly
This week, the Pentagon briefed the House Intelligence Committee on UFOs – or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) in the newly revised jargon. An unclassified report will be released soon, possibly next week, and it will crown a kind of revival of public interest in extraterrestrial visitation.
This renaissance is attributable, in part, to the report’s preventive leaks and an influence New York Times story, splashed onto its front page in December 2017, about an “obscure” military investigation into what two of its Navy pilots described in 2004 as an inexplicable encounter with a physics-defying object. Images were posted on the Time‘, and later broadcast on major networks.
Former US President Barack Obama has since spoken out on the issue and last month the New Yorker published a 13,000-word history of American ufology and the federal government’s own investigations.
In following all of this, I renewed an old idiosyncratic reproach. For a long time, “UFO” was popularly interchangeable with “flying saucer”. This is an obvious category error: one thing is defined by being “unidentified”, and the other is defined by our certainty of its foreign provenance. It is a fallacious amalgamation.
Before dismissing this as a little semantic grievance, note the recent reports and the rekindled public interest. This confusion abounds. While governments admit confusion or uncertainty about “aerial phenomena,” that does not, ipso facto, mean that they are alien spaceships. Governments are prone to secrecy, of course, but they are not omniscient. Sometimes they may not know what something is. (And sometimes they know when to exploit public gullibility to cover up their own very earthly military experiences. Paul Bennewitz’s story is an incredible example.)
the new York Time article should be taken with a grain of salt, and one thing that struck me about it New Yorker The story – though thoughtful and respectfully gullible – was the near absence of reference to the scientific community of extraterrestrial intelligence research (SETI), which is made up of astrophysicists, astrobiologists, philosophers, theologians, mathematicians, linguists and others with dazzling talent.
This is a striking omission, because what is most curious about SETI is not the classified reports, the grainy videos or the testimonies of fighter pilots. It’s the contrary. It’s the lack of proof – definitive proof – of extraterrestrial intelligence. They do not have any. We does not have. And depending on who you talk to is After unbelievable that the speculative theories of extraterrestrial visits.
Among those who have dedicated their lives to this research, there is an almost fundamental dilemma. This is called the Great Silence or the Fermi Paradox. Quickly explained: Where the hell is everyone?
For a slower explanation, here is Serbian physicist and philosopher Milan Ćirković: “Time and space are great in our astronomical environment, but there is an important sense in which the time scale is larger,” he writes. in his often intimidating and ultra-theoretical but insanely fascinating book The Great Silence. “The Galaxy is about 100,000 light years from edge to edge, which means that a star species would need about 10 million years to travel through it if it moved at a very modest speed of only 1% of the speed of light. Since the Galaxy is about one a thousand times older than that, any technological civilization will have much more time available for such expansion and colonization of all the planetary systems that exist in the Milky Way. If one species fails in this endeavor, another will not. Therefore, if intelligent species were present in appreciable numbers, they would have already been there. And yet, we don’t see them on Earth or in the solar system. For Fermi and many thinkers since, this was a paradox.
Enrico Fermi was an Italian physicist, working at the US atomic test site Los Alamos in 1950 when, over lunch, he casually asked his now famous question: Where is everyone? Since then, the paradox that bears his name has only deepened with the progress of spectrometry: that is, since Fermi’s death nearly 70 years ago, we now know that the Earth is a lot younger, relatively speaking, than previously thought. In the Milky Way, we are a puppy. A toddler. Our relative youth has only intensified the Fermi paradox.
But despite this, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is steeped in mystery and uncertainty, however ardent those who insist that extraterrestrial intelligence not only exists, but has us. frequently visited and engaged with us.
Aside from the idea that the repeated tours of an unfathomably superior intelligence with incredibly superior technology could be so easily suppressed by the humble old state propaganda, which is odd about this new UFO narrative, it is is how he blithely ignored the real and fascinating work of those who are professionally seeking for extraterrestrial life.
Milan Ćirković’s book is deeply theoretical because it must be: the Fermi paradox is not concerned with an observable phenomenon, But with his surprising absence. The Great Silence “is Sherlock Holmes’ dog that hasn’t barked,” he writes. ” Something is wrong. “
The speculative implications are staggering: is there a “Great Filter” – a universal systemic ceiling on the development of civilizations before their self-annihilation? (And, if he exists, is he behind or in front of us?) If there is is is intelligence in our cosmic neighborhood so advanced that it can conceal its own existence? Are we far enough advanced to detect this life, anyway? And if we have assumed the existence of a higher intelligence, is it wise to disseminate ours? Stephen Hawking didn’t think so. He said all ecosystems inherently contain predation, and our promiscuous exploratory radio wave broadcast recklessly invites invasion. Then again, perhaps the conditions for developing intelligent life are extremely rare, and Hawking shouldn’t have worried.
We do not know. But if we are truly alone, in this universe of unimaginable vastness and age – an old web populated by billions and billions of suns similar to ours, many with exoplanets orbiting an ideal distance for the flourishing of life – so that credibility to the existence of God?
If the Great Silence continues, we’ll never know. The vastness of the universe means that we will never be able to prove our uniqueness, for the possibility that life exists beyond our reach or comprehension will always exist, invincibly and temptingly. And we will remain suspended in uncertainty: apparently alone, but unable to prove it.
Personally, I think it’s unlikely that we are alone, just as I think it’s unlikely that alien intelligence hired us. And, of course: I loved the images of flying cigars and the solemn military men depicting weird lights. I loved that the Pentagon prepared a report on the flying saucers, and that the stigma of the whole foreign thing has, fortunately, declined.
But still: we know nothing. And nothing makes sense, because maybe nothing is all we have. And of everything I’ve read about finding extraterrestrial life, little has touched me more than this bit of wisdom from Douglas Vakoch, director of the composition of interstellar messages at the SETI Institute. “One of the biggest misconceptions about SETI is that we know in our hearts that there is life out there, and the question is whether we will be the generation that finds it,” he said. he declares. Wired in 2008. “This is wrong.
“SETI requires an acceptance of ambiguity. If there is one virtue in SETI, it is that it makes ambiguity acceptable at a time when people are focusing on the concrete and the short term. It is very often uncomfortable not to have the answers, but we have to accept it.